In between winning the Nobel Prize, shots of rum, bagging 240-pound marlins and banging 140-pound broads, Ernest Hemingway wrote: “The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially.” Did Papa play fantasy baseball? My pitching staff was very good, very brave, and now they’re very dead. Light a candle and cue the bagpipes (those things get me misty every time) in memory of Patrick Corbin, Matt Moore, Kris Medlen and the latest soldier to fall, Jose Fernandez. The literary references aside, the most talked about pitcher in baseball this season is not Clayton Kershaw, it’s not Max Scherzer, and it’s not even Bartolo Colon after an at-bat. The most talked about arm in the game is Tommy John. If ol’ TJ had a buck for every pitcher that has been lost this season to the surgery that bears his name, he’d have $19 – which is $4 more than he made in his Major League career. Thus far, 19 pitchers have blown out their prized possession, with Fernandez the latest to fall and rumors swirling about Andrew Cashner, who was just put on the DL shelf. All of last season, 19 players were lost to Tommy John. To talk some real baseball for a minute, even commissioner Bud Selig weighed in on the epidemic saying, “I’m almost afraid to pick up the paper because of the bad news.” Unfortunately, the bad news Bud was referring to, in the paper, was that it looks like Beetle Bailey will never get out of the Army. Bud then answered a call on his shoe as his toupee fell into his soup. The fact is, no matter how well you drafted, your staff must be feeling the pain, and no amount of penicillin will cure what ails you. It’s time to fire up the jammer-crammer machine©, dive into the deep-end of the waiver waters, and find us some arms that aren’t stitched together like Young Frankenstein. Walk this way, it’s time to jam it or cram it.
2014 Stats (Minors): 4 W, 44 K, 2.15 ERA, 1,08 WHIP.
Availability: 79% Yahoo, 99% ESPN.
FAAB $$$ Value: $5. It may take a little more than this, but don’t go crazy.
The Gist: Danny Salazar and his 489.95 ERA have been sent packing to the most boring place on Earth – Columbus, Ohio. With the ‘zar getting overthrown, that gives young and once highly touted right-hander Trevor Bauer a shot. Bauer was the third overall pick in 2011 and looked like a sure thing until injuries, a complete loss of the strike zone, and bad rapping got him shipped out of Arizona. Here’s what the Razzballin’ prospect whisperer Scott Evans had to say about Bauer: “I fear that Bauer’s greatest impact this season will be to explode your WHIP and bring sadness and regret to your home. Proceed with caution.” Hey, my fortune cookie said the same thing.
Key Stats: Bauer is coming off his first bad minor league start of the season where he gave up six runs on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Jam it or Cram it: There’s potential high-risk, high-reward with Bauer. He’s been strong in seven starts at Triple-A this year: 4-1, 2.15 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, with 44 strikeouts and 18 walks in 46 innings. Will it translate to the tribe? Bauer has about 125 different pitches and the fastball can top out at 97. He did make one big league start earlier this season, striking out eight in six innings and only giving up a run. Granted that was against the impotent Padres and Bauer will get a real test in his next start against the Detroit. With the real lack of pitching I’m following the fortune cookies advice and “proceeding with caution.” Stash Bauer, avoid the Tigers start and JAM.
2014 Stats: 5 W, 32 K, 2.66 ERA, 1.09 WHIP.
Availability: 57% Yahoo, 55% ESPN.
FAAB $$$ Value: $1. Pay in nickels.
The Gist: A Rockies pitcher with an ERA under 10? What in the name of Billy Swift is going on here? Lyles has five quality starts in a row, five wins and no losses in his first eight games. He pitched Saturday against the Padres and if he threw a no-hitter I’m going to look really bad today because this looks like a case of Bizzaro World to me.
Key Stats: In the long and storied history of Colorado baseball, only nine Rockies pitchers have had an ERA below 4.00 an entire season. Name all nine and I’ll mail you my turban.
Jam it or Cram it: Lyles has been getting great run support, his strikeout rate is up, the walk rate is down, the BABIP is about .250 and his ERA is just 1.25 with a 0.97 WHIP at home. However, Lyles FIP is nearly a run worse than his ERA and that sets off alarms. Will someone shut that damn thing off?! The regression fairy is coming. Soon. CRAM.
2014 Stats: 4 W, 47 K, 3.06 ERA, 1.11 WHIP.
Availability: 77% Yahoo, 91% ESPN.
FAAB $$$ Value: $1. I just can’t bring myself to spend more on something named “Dallas”.
The Gist: In Keuchel’s last seven starts, he’s summoned the spirit of J.R. Richard and pitched at least six innings while averaging 6+ Ks with an ERA under 3. The big Tulsa left-hander shut down the Texas bats in his last start and will throw twice this week.
Key Stats: Keuchel’s swinging strike percentage is at 11.5% this season. Last year it sat at 8.9%. 11.5 < 8.9. Thanks, third grade math.
Jam it or Cram it: Keuchel gets himself two starts this week that should show whether he’s man or myth. Monday, he gets the Angels who kill lefties and Saturday he faces off against King Felix and the Mariners. However, Keuchel’s been on a roll and that slider is nasty on right-handers. Let’s give the two start week a JAM.
2014 Stats: 0 W, 4 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.86 WHIP.
Availability: 100% Yahoo, 99% ESPN.
FAAB $$$ Value: $0. I have that on me.
The Gist: Has it really come to this? Who the hell is Chase Whitley? Sounds like the name of some bad, bucktoothed wannabe country music star. Whitley made his MLB debut last week for the Yankees and while he didn’t poop his pinstripes he wasn’t exactly Louisiana Lighting either. He pitched just 4.2 innings, only threw out of the stretch and the fastball topped out at 92. *yawn*
Key Stats: I’m searching for a key stat as much as the Yanks are searching for a starter. Here’s something: This is Whitley’s fourth year in baseball and his first year as a starter.
Jam it or Cram it: At Triple-A Scranton, Whitley has looked pretty good with a 3-2 record, a 2.39 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and 32 Ks in six starts. Clearly the kid needs more seasoning in the minors, but the Yankees are desperate. I’m desperate too, but not crazy. CRAM.
Jam or Cram: Drew Pomeranz, Oakland A’s.
2014 Stats: 3 W, 24 K, 1.14 ERA, 1.01 WHIP.
Availability: % Yahoo, % ESPN.
FAAB $$$ Value: $0.
The Gist: The Pomegranate is a former first round pick of the Indians that was shipped to Colorado for a box of weed brownies, but was able to escape career killing Coors for the cavernous coliseum in Oakland. The move is paying off as the lefty has allowed just seven baserunners in his first two starts with 13 strikeouts.
Key Stats: Over 23 2/3 innings, Pomeranz has a 24/8 K/BB rate.
Jam it or Cram it: Pomeranz seems a solid option that can help those in need of strikeouts while adding some ERA and WHIP relief. He also can be slotted into either a RP or SP spot – bonus. Pomeranz gets two starts this week that should test him – at Tampa who have a 22% K rate against left-handers and the Toronto Blue Jays who can score a ton at home. JAM the Tampa start, hold off in Toronto.
2014 Stats: 0 W, 6 K, 1.29 ERA, 0.86 WHIP.
Availability: 97% Yahoo, 99.3 % ESPN.
FAAB $$$ Value: $1. With all the money I’m saving on car insurance I can afford him.
The Gist: deGrom and his beautiful flowing locks made their debut against future country music legend Chase Whitney last week and the kid tossed seven innings of one-run ball, but took the loss because the Mets aren’t sure how baseball is played. The fastball topped 95 and he appeared to have a couple of different curveballs to go along with an effective change-up and some sort of Johnny Sain-style slurve. I watched this game and I’ll admit I tipped the turban his way.
Key Stats: deGrom became the first starting pitcher in Mets history to be charged with a loss in a game he pitched at least seven innings while giving up one run in their debut. Welcome to the record books, kid.
Jam it or Cram it: deGrom is an under the radar prospect, is listed as the tenth best prospect in the Mets system and will be fighting Rafael Montero for a rotation spot once Dillon Gee returns. deGrom gets the Dodgers next up and this start will decide whether he deserves a JAM or CRAM. The Stream-o-Nator says CRAM. Vegas will say CRAM. Yasiel Puig will say “viva le CRAM.” Where does this leave your humble-but-nonetheless-handsome Guru? Screw it, my team’s a mess. JAM.
**BONUS TRACKS ** Hitter Jams and Crams
Christian Yelich, OF, MIA: Riddle me this: Why is Yelich only 65% owned in Yahoo leagues? Are they too busy setting up their fantasy cricket site? JAM.
Kolten Wong, 2B, STL: Since being called up a couple days ago, Wong is hitting .600, stealing bases all over the place and my SAGNOF loves a big Wong. JAM.
Mark Reynolds, 1B/3B, MIL: Reynolds has hit eight home runs this year and will look great hitting eight more this summer on someone else’s team. CRAM.
Josh Reddick, OF, OAK: Reddick went all Hot Schmotato with three homers and nine RBI last week. This week he’ll go 0-17. CRAM.
Yangervis Solarte, 2B/3B/SS, NYY: The Anger Vice is second in the AL with a .325 average. Why no love? You don’t need to be able to say his name to JAM.
Thanks for Razzballin’, now go read some Hemingway. Follow The Guru and his dirty turban on Twitter @TheGuruGS for fantasy roster 411?s, brushes with fame and his signature move – the scotch-fueled selfie.